Social Workers conducting age assessments of young people claiming asylum. (H&F 25/05/09)

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

The recent court ruling A v London Borough of Croydon, WK v Kent Borough Council [2009] EWHC 939 (Admin), 8 May 2009, [1] makes a number of references to the practice of two Social Workers conducting age assessments of young people claiming asylum.

In view of the fact that the Care Standards Act 2000 (Chapter 14 (part 1V) section 61) contained provisions for the protection of the professional title of "Social Worker" and that anyone using this Title has to be registered on one of the UK Social Care Registers, (since 01 April 2005) can you Confirm or Deny the following:

1) Age assessments are always conducted by at least two Social Workers?

1.1 If they are not always conducted by at least two Social Workers, can you provide information that explains this apparent anomaly and provide details of the job Titles of those who currently conduct age assessments.

2) That since 01 April 2005 you have always used at least two Social Workers?

2.1) If you have not always used two Social Workers, since 01 April 2005, please provide details of the job Titles of those who currently conduct age assessments.

3) During said Court case a Helen Johnson, Refugee Council's Children's Panel, questioned the assertion by a Ms Janet Patrick, senior manager of the Croydon Council's Unaccompanied Minors' Team, that Council's are routinely advising applicants that they can have an adult present to give support during their age assessment.

Therefore can you provide copies of any information you hold, such as policies, memos, notes and guidance, (showing dates issued/written/drafted) as given to Social Workers, the applicants or anyone else, that Confirms or Denies that applicants are routinely advised that they can have an adult present to give support.

4) Please provide copies of any age assessment guidance or training material you hold.

Relevant quotes:

"The social workers involved in the decision making process who are employed by the local authorities in these cases have had training and do have substantial experience in assessing the age of UASCs.

My conclusion is that age determination, being part of broader questions relating to the provision of accommodation, and being but one of the many responsibilities for local authorities to provide support for children and families under Part III, are decisions which fall squarely within the social field of child care and are, therefore, customarily and properly entrusted to the social workers to decide.

This is based partly on the contention that their judgment can be no better than that of the experienced social worker...

It is said that her opinions in a number of cases show a consistent disagreement with the social workers' factual observations always in favour of the individual in question.

While recognising and indeed supporting the use of social workers and other professionals he records concerns that financial pressures can influence the assessment of age since the particular age of an individual will require a greater or lesser expenditure on him.

But the real question in these cases is whether a report from a paediatrician which reaches a conclusion contrary to that found by experienced social workers means that the assessment must be varied in the UASC's favour.

It is Dr Stern's view that a paediatrician is unlikely to be able to reach a conclusion which is superior to that reached by an experienced social worker, provided, of course, that the social worker is properly trained and experienced and conducted the necessary interview in an appropriate fashion.

Thus I do not think that the existence of a report from Dr Birch can generally attract any greater weight than the observations of an experienced social worker. In order to comply with the Hillingdon and Croydon guidelines, the assessments of social workers will be made by two working together and based upon interviews and observations over a far greater time period than that available to Dr Birch or indeed any paediatrician instructed by a UASC representative.

All this presupposes that the authority's decision is made by properly trained and experienced social workers in accordance with the guidelines approved by Stanley Burnton J in B v Merton.

Each authority has put before the court evidence of the training given to and the experience of the social workers who have to deal with age assessment.

She is satisfied from her experience that the reports of Drs Michie and Birch do not raise matters which cast doubt on the reliability of the decision reached by the two social workers."

etc

Reference:

[1] A Claimant - and - London Borough of Croydon - and – Secretary of State for the Home Department Defendant Interested Party And WK Claimant - and - Secretary of State for the Home Department First Defendant - and - Kent County Council Second Defendant
[2009] EWHC 939 (Admin), 8 May 2009
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

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Yours faithfully,

Cassidy, J

FOIRequests, Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council

Dear Sir/Madam,

REF: 2009/COR0314 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - INFORMATION REQUEST

I acknowledge your request received on 26 May 2009.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party.

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Further information is available from the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, Telephone: 01625 545 700, http://www.ico.gov.uk

Yours faithfully,

Jon Hill
Senior Information Management Officer
Information Management Team
FCS Business Technology
London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
Tel: 020 8753 5865

show quoted sections

FOIRequests, Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

REF: 2009/COR0296 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - INFORMATION REQUEST

I must apologise for the delay in responding to you on this matter. Your request for information has now been considered and our response is as follows:

Confirmation that when 16 or 17 year old unaccompanied children make a claim for asylum, that:

1) they are referred to your social services department for immediate support?
Yes, this group is given immediate support.

2) for a period, they are initially cared for under Section 17 of the Children Act?
All cases are assessed and following assessments appropriate services are provided appropriate to need. If they are in immediate need of accommodation they are assisted under Section 20, the Children Act 1989.

3) then they are cared for and accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act after a needs led or age assessment confirms such a duty is owed?
Yes, they are cared for and accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act after a needs led or age assessment confirms such a duty is owed.

4) once this Section 20 duty begins it ceases after a period and then they are supported under the Children (Leaving Care) Act?
There is a legal requirement that unaccompanied asylum seeking children and all other children must receive appropaite support under Section 20 for at least 13 weeks before they are able to access support under the Children (Leaving Care) Act.

4.1) For this group of 16 and 17 year olds please indicate, on average, how many weeks they are accommodated under Section 20 before this duty is discharged and they are transferred to after
care services under the Children (Leaving Care) Act, for the year ending 31 March 2008
See (4) above.

6) Please also provide copies of any information you hold hold that explains the Referral and Assessment process, procedures, service provision and legal duties that are applicable to this group of 16 and 17 year olds, from the point of referral, assessment and through to when you fully discharge your Section 17 or Section 2 duties and the discharge of your Children (Leaving Care) Act duties.
Please see attached Young People's Service document.

If you are dissatisfied in any way you may write to the Information Manager, Business Technology, 2nd Floor, Hammersmith Town Hall Extension, London W6 9JU

Once you have exhausted the complaints procedure you may appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, Telephone: 01625 545 700, http://www.ico.gov.uk

Yours faithfully

Alison Ross-Dow
Senior Information Management Officer
London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
Information Management Team/Finance & Corporate Services
2nd Floor, Hammersmith Town Hall Extension
King Street
London W6 9JU
DL: 020 8753 2455

www.lbhf.gov.uk

Director of Finance & Corporate Services: Jane West

FOIRequests, Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Sir or Madam

REF: 2009/COR0314 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - INFORMATION REQUEST

Your request for information has now been considered and our response is as follows:

The recent court ruling A v London Borough of Croydon, WK v Kent Borough Council [2009] EWHC 939 (Admin), 8 May 2009, [1] makes a number of references to the practice of two Social Workers conducting age assessments of young people claiming asylum.

In view of the fact that the Care Standards Act 2000 (Chapter 14 (part 1V) section 61) contained provisions for the protection of the professional title of "Social Worker" and that anyone using this Title has to be registered on one of the UK Social Care Registers, (since 01 April 2005) can you Confirm or Deny the following:

1) Age assessments are always conducted by at least two Social Workers?
Age assessments are always conducted by at least two experienced practitioners at least one of whom is a qualified Social worker and other a Social Care worker.

1.1 If they are not always conducted by at least two Social Workers, can you provide information that explains this apparent anomaly and provide details of the job titles of those who currently conduct age assessments.
Please see above.

2) That since 01 April 2005 you have always used at least two Social Workers?
Please see above.

2.1) If you have not always used two Social Workers, since 01 April 2005, please provide details of the job titles of those who currently conduct age assessments.
Please see above.

3) During said Court case a Helen Johnson, Refugee Council's Children's Panel, questioned the assertion by a Ms Janet Patrick, senior manager of the Croydon Council's Unaccompanied Minors' Team, that Council's are routinely advising applicants that they can have an adult present to give support during their age assessment.

Therefore can you provide copies of any information you hold, such as policies, memos, notes and guidance, (showing dates issued/written/drafted) as given to Social Workers, the applicants or anyone else, that Confirms or Denies that applicants are routinely advised that they can have an adult present to give support.
All applicants can have an adult present and routinley they do have an adult present. There has never been a need to provide written advice on this matter to applicants.

4) Please provide copies of any age assessment guidance or training material you hold.
Please see attached.

If you are dissatisfied in any way you may write to the Information Manager, Business Technology, 2nd Floor, Hammersmith Town Hall Extension, London W6 9JU

Once you have exhausted the complaints procedure you may appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, Telephone: 01625 545 700, http://www.ico.gov.uk

Yours faithfully

Alison Ross-Dow
Senior Information Management Officer
London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
Information Management Team/Finance & Corporate Services
2nd Floor, Hammersmith Town Hall Extension
King Street
London W6 9JU
DL: 020 8753 2455

www.lbhf.gov.uk

Director of Finance & Corporate Services: Jane West

FOIRequests, Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council

3 Attachments

Dear Sir or Madam

REF: 2009/COR0320 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - INFORMATION REQUEST

Your request for information has now been considered and our response is as follows:

Concerning the age assessment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum and the available guidance, can you please provide copies of:

1) Confirmation or denial that it is the practice of your local authority to always send the UKBA/Home Office a full copy of the age assessment and that doing so complies with your Confidentiality and Data Protection Act duties and policies and is done so with the informed consent of the person age assessed or with the written agreement of the assessed person's legal representative.
It is not our practice to send UKBA the full copy of the age assessment.

1.1) If you do send the UKBA/Home Office a full copy of the age assessment, but only in certain circumstances, can you give details of these circumstances and that doing so complies with your
Confidentiality and Data Protection Act duties and policies and is done so with the informed consent of the person age assessed or with the written agreement of the assessed person's legal representative.
N/A

1.2) Confirmation or denial that it is the practice of your local authority to always only send the UKBA/Home Office a summary of the outcome of the age assessment and that doing so complies with your Confidentiality and Data Protection Act duties and policies and is
done so with the informed consent of the person age assessed or
with the written agreement of the assessed person's legal
representative.
It is not our practice to send UKBA a summary of the outcome of the age assessment.

In connection with (1) , (1.1) and (1.2) above can you please provide copies of any procedures, operational policy or guidance that explains the manner by which these age assessments or summaries are shared with the UKBA/Home Office and that doing so is perfectly legal and professionally ethical. Together with copies of the relevant age assessment forms or summaries you currently use.

If you are dissatisfied in any way you may write to the Information Manager, Business Technology, 2nd Floor, Hammersmith Town Hall Extension, London W6 9JU

Once you have exhausted the complaints procedure you may appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, Telephone: 01625 545 700, http://www.ico.gov.uk

Yours faithfully

Alison Ross-Dow
Senior Information Management Officer
London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
Information Management Team/Finance & Corporate Services
2nd Floor, Hammersmith Town Hall Extension
King Street
London W6 9JU
DL: 020 8753 2455

www.lbhf.gov.uk

Director of Finance & Corporate Services: Jane West

Cassidy, J left an annotation ()

I was advised by email that this request had been classified as 'successful', I disagree and would suggest looking at: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/re...

Tue, 7 Jul 2009 6:34 PM ( 26 mins 31 secs ago ) Text view
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From "WhatDoTheyKnow" [Add]
To "Cassidy, J"
Subject Someone has updated the status of your request Show full header
To help us keep the site tidy, someone else has updated the status
of the Freedom of Information request 'Social Workers conducting
age assessments of young people claiming asylum. (H&F 25/05/09)'
that you made to Hammersmith & Fulham Borough Council, to
"successful." If you disagree with their categorisation, please
update the status again yourself to what you believe to be more
accurate.

Follow this link to see the request:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/so...

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